Nuggets of Fudge – Losing to Temptation


Suppose you understand that temptation is dangerous, that the evil one is crafty, and that you cannot beat sin in your own strength. You know that Jesus died–putting him beyond Satan’s reach and jurisdiction–and that he arose from death with powerful life in a new dimension. You know that in God’s eyes you also died and arose because Jesus represented you and because God views you as “in Christ.” Finally, you recall from Romans 6 that in any moment of temptation, when God and Satan give you opposite instructions, you can say “No” to Satan and walk away unscathed–if you only will reckon all this to be the truth, then present or yield your body to God but not to Satan.

Knowing all that, a temptation moment comes and you decide not to “reckon” or not to “yield”–but sin instead. You are embarrassed, sorry, disgusted with yourself. You wonder how God can possibly forgive you for, what is it now, the five hundredth time? At this point, it is time to remember these words from John. “This then is how . . . we set our hearts at rest . . . whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and he knows everything” (1 John 3:19-20, NIV).

What does God know in this situation? True, he knows our weaknesses, our temptations, our mitigating circumstances. But that is all beside the point. What matters is that he knows this: that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice for our sins; that God has forgiven our sins on account of his name; and that we live in him and he lives in us (1 John 2:2, 12; 4:13-16). We might forget those things momentarily, or forget their importance, but God does not forget. And when we do remember what God never forgot, our hearts are set at rest.

Martin Luther once said he was glad the Bible does not say that Jesus died for Martin Luther, for then he would spend his whole life wondering if there was another man named “Martin Luther.” Instead the Bible says that Christ died for sinners (Rom. 5:8). That is far better to read, said Luther. There can be no doubt that he is a sinner, and on that basis he knows that Christ died for him.

By: Edward Fudge
EdwardFudge.com

 

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Nuggets of Fudge – CRAFTY TEMPTATION


What a refreshing change to see a well known leader in the Christian community being transparent. Just when I thought Edward Fudge couldn’t top what he has already said about temptation I received this in my “in box” a few days ago. This illustration points out that I am not alone in loving the praise of men. God has some work to do on me!

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Temptation first walks into the Bible story over a verbal bridge that links Genesis chapters two and three. As we noted earlier, the passage pivots on a pun. Mr. and Mrs. Dirt-Creature (“Adam” in Hebrew) are naked (literally, “slick”) but they are not embarrassed. And the serpent is more crafty (literally,”slick”) than any other field-beast. Although fully bare, before they have sinned the Adamses feel no shame.

Embarrassment is a subjective form of self-consciousness, not a true measure of reality. Guilt, on the other hand, is an objective characteristic, whether one “feels” it or not. The crafty serpent will play head-games with the Dirt-Creatures, fool with their feelings, confuse their perception of reality–and, in the end–watch them distrust and disobey the Creator who IS life and who gives life to them.

The crafty devil is still at it today, and I speak from personal experience. I had been invited to read a paper at a particular scholarly meeting that I considered a great honor. Driving the night before to the city where the conference was being held, I was praying when my thanksgiving began to morph into self-congratulation. I heard my voice saying words I did not know I meant. I thanked God for this honor, which not only was well-deserved but long overdue. I thanked him that I finally was getting some of the attention that He, as the just judge of the universe, fully understood should come my way.

Suddenly I was flooded with feelings of guilt and appropriate embarrassment for my hubris. My sinful pride was obvious and outrageous. Scripture is full of warnings and admonitions regarding this sin that God hates. My self-centered thanksgiving quickly turned to a prayer of confession and request for forgiveness. I poured out my heart in sincere repentance. Then I heard a little voice in the back of my head. Again it came–only asking a question, a question one sentence long. But the content of that question could have but one source–the crafty serpent we met in Genesis 3. This was the question: “Wasn’t that the best prayer of repentance you have ever heard?”

Edward Fudge – gracEmail

Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation, A Wrap Up.


This post is the conclusion of a series of posts by my friend Edward Fudge. There is far more to be learned from these posts than about the subject of temptation in the Christian’s life. As usual, great biblical truths are a part of everything Edward writes. This series is no exception. They are jam packed with great doctrinal truths that we all need to know and appropriate.

The previous posts can be found here. Temptation (1), Temptation (2), Temptation (3), Temptation (4), and in this issue parts 5 and 6. I hope these lessons will bless you as they have me.

To subscribe to Edward’s gracEmail click here and you will blessed with Edward’s wisdom, scriptural insight, and news about what is going on in his life and other things he finds interesting.

Now, Edward writes:

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OVERCOMING TEMPTATION 

As these mortal bodies remind us, we have a fallen nature, and “natural” for us now includes a tendency to sin. As explained in Romans 6, the only way we can beat temptation is to die. People might sin in a cemetery, but the people who do so are not the folks who belong there. Whoever dies is liberated from sin and its appeal. Expect the devil to claim otherwise, but the truth is that sin’s power ends at the grave. But how does this help us, since we are still alive?

The answer is all about Jesus who rescues us from sin. Not only from its penalty, but also from its practice, and finally from its presence as well. He rescues us by becoming our high priest, standing in for us, taking our place, acting as our formal, official representative before God. But let us be specific: Jesus died–I died. Jesus was buried–I was buried. Jesus arose from the dead–I arose from the dead. These things really happened to Jesus, and because he is our representative, they also happened to us.

Fast forward now to the present. Satan comes tempting, reminding us that we humans, when left to our own power and to no other, cannot consistently resist sin. But Romans 6 interrupts. You died with Jesus, it says, and you moved past the jurisdiction of sin’s power over you. You were raised with Jesus, and you now live in righteousness–from a new power source that also empowers Jesus himself.

We can consider or reckon, calculate and conclude, that these things are really true–they truly describe the new reality in God’s new creation. In this new creation, whenever sin comes calling, we can say “no” to sin and present ourselves to God to do through us what he wishes. Sin’s power is broken–a new creation has begun and we are God’s righteous handiwork as he gradually makes us more and more like Jesus Christ himself.

JESUS’ RESURRECTION CONQUERS TEMPTATION 

The devil’s constant message and greatest lie is an attack on the very character of God. “God cannot be trusted,” Satan whispers. “You best keep an eye open if you really expect to be safe.” If we look closely, we see that all temptation to sin finally involves distrusting God. Not surprising, in the Gospels, Jesus’ saving ministry on earth begins and ends with the spotlight on this core issue. Can God be trusted to keep his promises?

“Since you are God’s son,” Satan literally begins in the wilderness (Luke 4:3). He dares not contradict the heavenly voice (Luke 3:22). Jesus would never fall for that. The issue is not Jesus’ divine sonship. The issue is the Father’s faithfulness. Can we trust God–and therefore obey him without fear or reservation–or must we look out for our own interests when dealing with the Father? Once, twice, then three times, Jesus deflects diabolical doubt. God’s word gives life, he affirms. Only God is worthy of our worship. Do not put him to the test (Luke 4:4, 8, 10). Jesus passes this test and Satan leaves him “until a more opportune time” (Luke 4:13).

The devil returns in Gethsemane, unseen and unnamed, but he brings the same haunting question as before: can Jesus really afford to trust God? The Father has said that Jesus is about to be slaughtered, then rise again on the third day. But can the Father be trusted to do that? Jesus’ prayer is not to avoid the cross, but rather to be rescued out of death. “Take this cup away from me,” Jesus prays; “yet not my will but yours be done” (Luke 22:39-46). To drink God’s cup of wrath is to undergo divine judgment. For God to take away the cup is to be restored again to life in God’s favor (Isaiah 51:17, 21-22).

Jesus faces the same temptation to doubt the Father’s character when from the cross he cries out words from Psalm 22:1–“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Psalm 22 closes with the godforsaken one alive and praising God with his brothers and sisters. Can Jesus trust that to be the case? In the end, faith triumphs over distrust, and Jesus dies with the words: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” God is faithful to anyone who trusts in him. How do we know? We know because God raised Jesus from the dead.

Nuggets of Fudge – Reflections on Temptation (4)


Surely one of the worst things about temptation is its inherent deceitfulness. The Bible pictures Satan as a lying deceiver who relies on misrepresentations and half-truths, and the devil lives up to his reputation. If temptation were subject to truth-in-advertising laws, we can be sure there would be far less sin. Just imagine–if every enticement to sin came with a disclosure statement that we had to read and sign before being tempted, we might even learn to recognize evil for what it is in fact–thoroughly dangerous and (in the big picture) always undesirable.

An honest disclosure statement would mention that any featured sin is noted for its temporary pleasure, but such pleasure is short-lived and is replaced by feelings of shame, remorse, and actual guilt. And that all happens before any other human being even knows about the sin, knowledge that can produce loss of respect, esteem and reputation. We must not forget the loss of enjoyment of intimacy with God which is the special birthright of everyone born from above and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

Does temptation come with such an announcement? Is it framed by a banner flashing with colored lights, reminding us that the devil’s goals are to kill, to steal and to destroy? Not in a thousand years! Instead the tempter whispers: “Bend the numbers on the IRS tax return–the government sticks you for more than your fair share anyway.” “The lonely heart on this no-spouses business trip only wants a little company, and the room is a more comfortable place to visit.” “The hotel’s internet connection is anonymous, and besides you are by yourself and no one will be hurt.” The truths left unstated are many, and the list of lies is long.

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The next and final post of this series on temptation will be “Overcoming Temptation”. Many thanks to my dear friend Edward Fudge for this study and for his 50 plus years of preaching Christ.

Royce